Chelsea vs Manchester City preview, free betting tips and prediction: Who will win the curtain-raiser of the English season?
Team to Win
The Maurizio Sarri era at Chelsea starts off with a big test for the Italian manager as he’s pitted against Pep Guardiola’s rampant champions in the Community Shield. While the curtain-raiser ultimately means very little, both managers will hope to pick up a bit of momentum with a solid shift ahead of their respective Premier League openers. Sarri has recent experience against Guardiola, his Napoli side losing twice to City in the Champions League group stages last season.
The games were thrillingly contested and had Guardiola gushing afterwards about Sarri’s management of ‘maybe the best side he had ever faced’. While that compliment would have flattered Sarri, he would rather have received it on the back of a victory. But perhaps it’s too early in his reign to expect him to beat Guardiola. He’s missing key players – the likes of Courtois and Hazard – and Willian (who also had passport problems) has only returned to training. These absences allowed a couple of youngsters to shine in recent friendlies against Inter Milan and Arsenal.
The pick of the bunch was easily Callum Hudson-Odoi. As the commentary team remarked, he had Hector Bellerin on toast, terrifying the Spaniard with his blistering pace and directness. The 17-year-old could be involved in the game against City with Sarri saying that the teenager would be staying with the club for the season.
City are also missing players. They provided the most players at the World Cup in Russia and hence will be without Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, Kyle Walker and John Stones, to name but a few. Yet this is an opportunity for City to showcase their strength in depth. They have strengthened an already-stacked squad with the addition of Riyad Mahrez. Having been out for the vast majority of last season, the returning Benjamin Mendy will also feel like a new signing. Guardiola has been doting on his young stars throughout pre-season so a handful could be promoted to the first team for another campaign of attacking on all fronts. Their business may not be complete with Guardiola believed to want to add another defensive midfielder to his ranks before the transfer window closes.
Hudson-Odoi shone in the draw with Arsenal and was only denied further acclaim by the poor finishing of Alvaro Morata. The striker is badly lacking in confidence and it showed versus the Gunners when he passed up a number of good opportunities to score. Sarri maintains that he believes that the forward will come good. Jorginho will make his competitive debut for the Blues. Cesc Fabregas picked up an injury against his former club and is unlikely to star here.
Having been left out of Germany’s disastrous World Cup, Leroy Sane will feel somewhat grateful after what came to pass but also that he has a point to prove. He could even be a decent each-way tip for the Golden Boot this year. He’ll start in an attack also featuring Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva, who scored twice in a recent win over Bayern Munich.